What is Blue­tooth 5?

Blue­tooth 5 has fi­nally ar­rived. Mar­tyn Casserly ex­plains what it is and why you’ll want to up­grade

Android Advisor - - Contents -

The specs for Blue­tooth 5 have now been fi­nalised, mean­ing we should soon see de­vices re­leased which in­clude the technology. So what changes does the new stan­dard bring and how will they ben­e­fit you? We take a closer look.


Blue­tooth is a wireless method of com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween elec­tron­ics de­vices. It’s cross plat­form,

mean­ing it works on pretty much any technology de­vice. The most com­mon uses for it tend to be con­nect­ing wireless speak­ers or head­phones to smart­phones and tablets, but you can also trans­fer files to PCs, have your smartphone com­mu­ni­cate with a smart­watch, con­nect a wireless key­board or a wide va­ri­ety of other use­ful things.

New fea­tures

Con­nects over longer dis­tances At the mo­ment Blue­tooth 4.2 is good for around 10m (or 33ft) with a clear line of sight. Blue­tooth 5 is set to quadru­ple this.

Faster per­for­mance An­other im­prove­ment over its pre­de­ces­sor is that Blue­tooth 5 will have a data trans­fer rate of 2Mb/s, twice as fast in terms of per­for­mance, plus it will carry eight times the amount of in­for­ma­tion. This means you’ll be able to send more data, quicker than you could have done be­fore. Sadly, be­fore au­dio­philes get their hopes up though, this still isn’t enough for un­com­pressed mu­sic stream­ing.

More ro­bust sig­nal Blue­tooth 5 also con­tains technology that will al­low it to re­duce the po­ten­tial in­ter­fer­ence caused by other Blue­tooth or Wireless de­vices in any given area. This will be­come in­creas­ingly im­por­tant as the age of the In­ter­net of Things fi­nally ar­rives.

Built for the In­ter­net of Things The ex­tended range, higher band­width, and stronger per­for­mance mean that Blue­tooth

Bea­cons, lo­cal nodes that can send very pre­cise area-spe­cific in­for­ma­tion to de­vices, are set to be­come far more wide­spread. Ini­tially these will most likely be found in places like shop­ping cen­tres, letting you know where cer­tain stores are and any deals or pro­mo­tions they cur­rently have. But the uses are wider than that and we’ve al­ready seen one that helps blind peo­ple nav­i­gate around San Fran­cisco air­port.

More power ef­fi­ciency With all these ex­tra fea­tures it’s only rea­son­able to as­sume that power drain could be­come an is­sue on our al­ready bat­tery-chal­lenged smart­phones. Thank­fully this shouldn’t be the case as it seems the new spec­i­fi­ca­tion will match the per­for­mance of Blue­tooth 4.2.

Com­pat­i­ble de­vices

As much of Blue­tooth technology in­volves hard­ware, it will mean re­plac­ing your de­vices with newer ver­sions if you want the ben­e­fits Blue­tooth 5 pro­vides. You’ll still be able to use your ex­ist­ing de­vices to con­nect to hard­ware us­ing the new stan­dard, but per­for­mance will re­main the same as it was on Blue­tooth 4.2.

Re­lease date

In terms of re­lease dates, Blue­tooth 5 was con­firmed by the over­see­ing body the Blue­tooth Spe­cial In­ter­est Group, which means it is now avail­able for man­u­fac­tur­ers. We would ex­pect to see de­vices ap­pear in the shops over the next few months, so you won’t have long to wait.

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